Post-Planetary Design

School of Design Strategies, Parsons The New School for Design

PSDS 5701: [CRN 7970]  elective seminar open to cross school & cross division enrollment

Professor: Ed KELLER
Thurs. 7 - 9.40 pm  location: room 1206 (6 E 16th)

“As I gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron. My longing was beyond the power of opposition; I closed my eyes, stretched out my arms toward the god of my vocation and felt myself drawn with the suddenness of thought through the trackless immensity of space.”

This course will run as a design research seminar exploring all the aspects of design at a post-planetary scale. Throughout the semester we will screen scifi films, read bright and dark futurologies, scan, debate, and re-scan critical histories and theories, and ultimately produce a set of ‘black papers’, short videos and/or interactive projects that speculate on the next 50 to 1000 [ yes, one thousand! ] years of cross disciplinary design.   Post-Planetary  will bring invited guests and collaborators [including, TBC,  Lynn Rothschild, NASA astrobiologist; Peter Watts, noted scifi author and marine biologist; Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG; Ben Bratton, UCSD Center for Design and Geopolitics; and many others] to participate in the course via guest lectures, workshops, panels, and to join in the creation of a set of content modules outlining the full spectrum of risks and benefits of going off-world, of taking ecology beyond the human, and beyond the planet.

What is at stake at the Post-Planetary scale?
Design today usually deals with objects, supply chains, recycling, and cradle to cradle.  Sustainable design is justified according to a logic of Glocal:  ‘Think Global, Act Local’.  Yet, when we think of longer timeframes- decades, centuries or millennia- this set of questions inevitably scales up to the post-planetary. We cannot think of design a century from now without taking it off planet.  The consequences of this leap will be profound. Industry in space will be a wildly profitable and phenomenally hazardous enterprise. The ultimate design strategy takes into account planetary and larger scales of design. And in this process we may well discover or contact alien life. What could be more disruptive to a human centered model of ecology than these design variables?  What new politics and economies, what new modes of individual and collective sovereignty, will emerge in the cosmic scape that we see in films like Kubrick’s 2001? This course will explore what it means to go beyond Geopolitics to define the role of design in establishing a new Cosmopolitics.

COURSE STRUCTURE:  Post-Planetary will operate as a seminar for the first 2/3 of the semester: films and readings will be assigned; in class we will run a series of discussions and lectures. During the final 1/3 of the semester, these seminar sessions will continue, and students will team up to produce a series of design research studies, culminating in a final assignment to be presented at the end of the semester, taking the form of research ‘black papers’, short videos, and/or interactive media piece. Additional lectures and events will take place outside of class time and will be recorded for async viewing and participation. All work will be accumulated in an OpenAccess dossier ready for publication online and in print.

SPECIAL GUESTS: Post-Planetary will include invited guests and collaborators with expertise in fields ranging from astrobiology to post national politics to urban design. Guests will include [TBC] Lynn Rothschild [NASA], Peter Watts [author of Blindsight & Rifters trilogy, and marine biologist], Geoff Manaugh [BLDGBLOG], Ben Bratton [UCSD DGP], Jamie Kruse [Smudge Studio], Nandita Biswas Mellamphy & Dan Mellamphy [UWO], Mitch Joachim [TerreFORM, NYU] and more.

COLLABORATION: Post-Planetary will operate in collaboration with courses and public lecture programs held at UCSD [Bratton] and Columbia Univ. GSAPP Studio X [Manaugh]. All this material will be available to our seminar section immediately. Bratton’s research, lectures and courses engage technology driven emerging geopolitical structures; Manaugh’s research, lectures, and events engage climate change driven re-alignments and erasures of nation states.  We will host joint events, lectures, panels, and online sessions during the semester. A comprehensive schedule is in development and will be announced at the start of the course.  Additional collaborations TBA.

TECHNOLOGY: Post-Planetary will participate in a pilot program / Beta test of Mozilla’s OpenBadges platform. All students enrolled in the course will receive OpenBadges. This experiment will allow our course to more intensively collaborate with external students, including UCSD DGP and the GSAPP Studio X.

SCREENINGS AND READINGS: Post-Planetary will explore a fabulous lineup of scifi films and texts, as well as a cutting edge selection of critical theory, futurology and history.  We will read some novels and theory texts in full, and a wide range of shorter excerpts. A partial selection is listed below to give a sense of the range. Online materials and games TBD.

Code 46  Ghost in the Shell   Children of Men    2001    Minority Report  Videodrome    Alphaville    Pandorum    Andromeda Strain    The Fountain    Mission to Mars    Aliens        Solaris        The Thing    District 9    Moon        Total Recall    Contact    Event Horizon        SUNSHINE    Fifth Element     Pitch Black    Super 8    Dark City    Final Fantasy    Avatar

Dune        Blindsight    Accelerando    Stars My Destination    Rainbows End  The Eerie Silence     Across the Sea of Suns    The Geopolitical Aesthetic   Means Without End     Shockwave Rider     Diamond Age & Snow Crash    UBIK    Invisibles    Future Now    HP Lovecraft [various]        Cyclonopedia
In the Valley of the Kings    Rendezvous with Rama    Solaris          
Schild’s Ladder    The Star Pit    Skylark    The Authority        Neuromancer        Cosmicomics       

…and various writers including Bostrom, Hanson, Dyson, Cirkovic, Plait, et al.


PLANETARY     Planetary Design, Biopolitics, Technology, Ecology
February 1st- 22nd      
Readings, screenings and in class discussions.
Research proposal due Week 5.  Students work individually or in small teams.

February 29th- March 28th      
Readings, screenings and in class discussions.
Research work due Week 10. Students are recommended to work in teams.

April 4th- May 2nd     
Readings, screenings and in class discussions.
Final research project/paper/video work.

WEEK 16: FINAL ASSIGNMENTS DUE, final class and review, date TBA

Class Participation: 10%
Research proposal: 25%
Research paper: 30%
Research final paper/video/interactive/project: 35%

Post-Planetary is a research seminar exploring all aspects of design at a post-planetary scale. Throughout the semester we will screen scifi films, read bright and dark futurologies, scan, debate, and re-scan critical histories and theories, and ultimately produce a set of 'black papers', short videos and/or interactive projects that speculate on the next 50 to one thousand years of cross disciplinary design.

view archive






VIMEO Archive